Fleet Management for Business
What is Fleet Management?
Fleet management involves coordinating work vehicles for maximum efficiency and compliance with government regulations.
All companies that use vehicles in their supply chains make big decisions about how to deploy them. As business booms, these decisions become more complex. Important considerations include:
- Managing employee workflows and scheduling assignments
- Tracking the performance of an increasingly distributed workforce
- Ensuring vehicles and other valuable assets are available when needed
Nowadays, smart fleet management relies much more on technology than manual admin. Fleet management companies like RAM Tracking and Teletrac Navman offer software-based solutions for all types of fleets. Whatever your industry, fleet management is more convenient than ever.
Features of Fleet Management
It doesn’t matter if your fleet is a few delivery vans, a couple dozen trailer trucks or hundreds of cars strong – fleet management systems are made to scale. You’ll find almost every fleet management company offers solutions for small, medium and large fleets.
What really separates fleet management companies from one another are the capabilities of their solutions. Some companies, like pool service software provider PoolTrac, provide features that would only be useful in specific niches. Others, like fleet telematics giant Verizon, cater to a broader range of clients.
Regardless, there are certain features common to all fleet management companies:
Vehicle tracking systems collect data about vehicle mileage, fuel consumption, route information, delays and emergencies. Some systems feed you this information in real time, making it possible to intervene quickly. When you can see the route a vehicle is taking, the number of stops it’s making, and its average speed, it’s easy to spot areas of inefficiency.
A typical arrangement involves leasing or purchasing GPS tracking devices from a fleet management company, who installs them on each vehicle you intend to track. Using dedicated mobile and computer software, you can analyze the data and set up automated reports to keep you in the loop.
Use it to: Keep an eye on operations in real time and examine the data later for actionable insights.
Dispatch and Scheduling
Job scheduling and dispatching is a basic part of most fleet management software. Digital jobs boards lets you physically see driver schedules and upcoming customer appointments, making it much easier to allocate your resources ahead of time. If a delivery falls at risk due to a sudden vehicle failure, you can use location information from a GPS car tracker to send another driver who is close to your customer.
Use it to: Improve customer satisfaction, complete assignments quicker, and increase your business’s cash flow.
Fleet management hardware including electronic logging devices (ELDs) can monitor speed and driving habits; including harsh braking. A survey conducted by Motorola even found that having fleet vehicles equipped with GPS actually decreased travel downtime by 53% and improved employee accountability by 26%.
Safety and Maintenance
Most fleet management software and hardware gives you immediate access to your vehicles’ service history. Armed with that information, it’s easy to spot which ones are due for maintenance. If a routine inspection uncovers defects, some systems allow you to book an appointment at the repair shop and alert the driver.
Some systems are designed more specifically with driver safety in mind. DriveCam, for example, records vehicle dashboard video that serves as evidence in case of accidents or legal disputes.
Use it to: Keep drivers safe and reduce dangerous driving.
Since 2017, there has been a strict legal requirement on fleet managers to collect hours-of-service (HOS) logging data for vehicles in their fleet. Companies in breach of the so-called ‘ELD Mandate’ risk large fines and vehicle shutdown orders.
Fortunately, modern ELD-enabled fleet management solutions allow drivers to record this data with minimum fuss. You’ll eliminate compliance-related issues and save yourself a lot of stress later on down the line.
Use it to: Avoid fines by keeping more accurate driving records
▶ Now read:Canadian Law on Vehicle Tracking in 2018
Fleet Management Prices
It's difficult to compare prices across vehicle tracking and fleet management solutions, as the options and basic packages vary. If you only need simple map functionality, a regular smartphone will work well without an additional device. Alternatively, a standalone GPS system can cost as little as $100. However, neither of these options will help you to manage your vehicles.
Prices for leasing full fleet management solutions can start from as little as a few dollars each month per vehicle. Purchasing a full suite of hardware and software, on the other hand, could cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
▶ Now read: A complete fleet management costs breakdown
Best Fleet Management Providers
Storm Telematics pride themselves on their excellent analytics software, which both collects and analyses data and turns it into actionable insights. Storm Telematics go beyond normal fleet management features into materials tracking, inventory control, and even yard management, offering a full solution to organise many aspects of your business from one system.
Fleetmatics are one of the most well-known and respected fleet management providers in North America. Fleetmatics solutions include individual Driver IDs, diagnostics, reports, and customizable dashboards. With over 42,000 customers, Fleetmatics know how to handle any fleet effectively.
Compare Fleet Management Providers with Expert Market
PosiTrace is a GPS tracking solution developed by Global Fleet Management. PosiTrace is adaptable to suit many industries, including construction, moving, towing, and oil & gas. They have different plans to suit differing fleet sizes and budgets and customer testimonials describe an efficient, friendly company who offer a great product for fleet managers.
Element offer a wide range of fleet management solutions; from cars and light duty vehicles, to medium and heavy trucks. Their programs are fully flexible and each one is designed with your businesses in mind, so you don’t have to deal with an out-of-the-box solution that may not be suitable for you. Due to the bespoke nature of their software systems, Element pricing varies dependant on how many vehicles need to be managed and the level of service required.
RAM Global Solutions
Thanks to a unique business model, RAM Global Solutions has been leading the way in the fleet management industry since 2004. The firm specialises in customer service and technical innovation, and serves more than 4,500 customers globally. The 40,000 RAM vehicle tracking systems currently in use on roads speaks to the popularity of their fleet management solutions.
Do I need a fleet tracking system if there are less than five vehicles in my fleet?
Fleets of all sizes stand to save money through smart adoption of fleet telematics technologies. Even small fleets can use these technologies to make better business decisions.
Can I really afford this investment on top of my normal operating expenses?
It’s less costly than you think to get started with fleet tracking. Hardware and software costs aren’t what they were five years ago, and many of today’s entry level solutions boast impressive feature sets.
Leasing is by far the most popular, inexpensive and risk-free option for fleet management. For as little as $20-$100 a month, you can get GPS trackers with starts and stops, fuel and idle reporting software for all your vehicles. If you don’t need all of the advertised features, tiered pricing plans let you pay only for what you do need.
If you’re still hesitant, it’s worth knowing you don’t need to worry about hardware depreciation when leasing. You see, you don’t actually own the hardware – your supplier does, which means they bear responsibility for upkeep and repair. Think of it as insurance against obsolescence. Leasing also gives you the flexibility to upgrade your monthly plan to keep pace with your business’s growth.
Installation costs are the biggest unavoidable upfront expense. But it’s possible to find good deals for this, or even to do it yourself.
How do I choose the right solution for my enterprise?
A great way to begin your research is by conducting a SWOT analysis of your fleet.
Once complete, you’ll have both a better sense of your business’s strengths and weaknesses, and a clearer idea of how telematics can be of greatest use to you.
Step 1: Strengths
Where does your fleet excel? Think of all the things your fleet does well, and note them down in bullet point form.
Step 2: Weaknesses
You’ll have found, from analysing your business’s strengths, that it performs consistently well in some areas, with room for improvement in others. Turn your attention now to these aspects of your fleet. When you’re identifying these operational weaknesses, it can be helpful to invert the questions you asked yourself in Step 1.
Don’t worry if you’re not able to answer some of these questions. It may be because you lack the technology for gathering detailed enough insights about your fleet. This is itself a valuable insight, and we’ll look at opportunities for getting better information about your fleet in Step 3.
Step 3: Opportunities
With your fleet’s strengths and weaknesses in mind, next ask yourself how using telematics could enhance your business. You’ll want to acquaint yourself with common features of different fleet management systems in order to do this.
Keep your business’s goals in mind as you assess where different technologies can be of greatest use to you.
Step 4: Threats
Finally, it’s time to address any external risks that could jeopardize your fleet’s performance in the future.
With your SWOT analysis complete, you can begin to whittle your options down. Once you’ve compiled a shortlist of suppliers, it takes less than a minute to source quotes using Expert Market’s comparison tool.
Do I really need the add-ons (additional hardware installations, asset management software, trailer tracking, etc)?
It really depends on your fleet’s role within your business. For example, if you handle equipment deliveries on behalf of high-value clients, bespoke tracking software for those assets could be a sensible investment. If your long-haul truckers traverse icy roads, a robust tire management system would be essential.
And, while you’ll ideally find a single supplier who can service these needs and more, that won’t always be possible. Some suppliers will offer everything you need as standard, but certain features like Drivecam’s video events recorder, or Workwave’s real-time traffic profiles, are more niche.
In that case, look out for suppliers like Garmin who offer excellent party partnerships and integrations with third party software. However complex your fleet’s needs, you can find right solution by researching your options.
Do I really need to research before I choose a provider?
In short, yes. With the right research, a fleet management solution is a long-term investment that can deliver immediate benefits. It has the potential to massively reduce operational costs and make your business more efficient.
If left unmanaged, regulatory risks and day-to-day operational outgoings can work heavily against your bottom line. Poorly maintained vehicles can lead to completely avoidable fines or legal action.
That’s why having a fleet management strategy is vital to your company's success. Fortunately, modern fleet management solutions are making the job easier than ever.
Use our quick quotes-finding tool to request more information from top fleet management companies.